bad apple: in response to the banned “anti-gay” app

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Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

bad apple: in response to the banned “anti-gay” app

this is the kind of post that won’t win me any friends. so, i ask that you keep an open mind and see this in a possible new light.

indeed, in many ways, this is a lose-lose situation. my progressive friends will criticize my defense of a group/cause that they view as hateful. my conservative friends will want me to take a firm stance on the issue of homosexuality. (and that’s not even to mention my fellow apple fanboys after i criticize apple…) 😉

and yes, this post does offer a criticism of apple, which—not surprising to anyone who knows me—is my been my favorite company for well over 10 years. i’ve been accused of being an apple lemming, but the reality is that they won me over a very long time ago for their extraordinary and inspiring products. where i lose my lemming status, though, is in the fact that i don’t think they’re perfect and feel compelled to offer criticism when appropriate.

in this case, i feel it’s appropriate.

over the last week, there’s been quite a stir within the progressive blogosphere—originating, i believe, on the huffington post—about an app by the controversial manhattan declaration. if you don’t know anything about the manhattan declaration, you can get an overview here. in essence, it’s a manifesto issued by a prominent group of christian clergy/leaders that affirms their support of “the sanctity of life, traditional marriage, and religious liberty”. in other words, it’s just another conservative political push cloaked in religious language (read this if you think that’s not a problem). in fairness, this is probably a tiny baby step left of the religious right due to its ecumenical nature, but with signatures from the likes of james dobson, chuck colson, tony perkins, al mohler and chuck swindoll, it still rests firmly on the far right side of the religio-political spectrum (and i have to hesitantly admit that timothy tennent, the new president of asbury—where i attended seminary—signed the declaration). just a casual perusal of their blog gives you an idea of their true colors.

bottom line, i’m not a fan of the declaration and given the opportunity (which we are), i wouldn’t sign it or endorse it in any way. it’s not so much that i disagree with every single bit of it (i do quite a bit of it), but that i think it’s a relatively useless document that has very little to do with the things that i think jesus really cares about.

with that said…

the controversy concerns a manhattan declaration iphone app that was submitted, approved and added to the app store last month. the app included the full text, an opportunity to add your signature and some survey questions about gay marriage, abortion and other topics addressed in the declaration. once the huffington post got ahold of the story, other websites responded, including an online petition to apple to remove the app and “stop the hate”.

today, apple removed the app.

i have a couple beefs. while many of you, my progressive friends, will disagree with this, i’m deeply bothered by the rhetoric—such as “anti-gay” and “hate”—about/towards people who share the beliefs of the MD authors. that type of language shows—in the absolute most definitional sense of the word—ignorance about those who hold those beliefs. what i mean is that i grew up surrounded by people who hold those beliefs and many of them simply have not arrived at them out of hate or ill will. many are very loving, caring people. certainly, some may have arrived at those views out of a limited understanding of scripture or their own ignorance, but many have not and many have not factored in hate. likewise, many people i know do hate gay people and do have ill will, but i also know that many do not, but rather have honest beliefs that come from thoughtful study of scripture. “hate” simply doesn’t describe many of the people i know who aren’t in favor of gay marriage.

when people who feel compelled by love and acceptance and equality hurl slurs at those with differing beliefs, you undermine your own message.

the second beef i have is, as previously stated, with apple. now, i’ve been the first person in the past to stand up for apple when it comes to them having the ability to be able to control the content within their own products. if they don’t want to include flash, that their own business prerogative. if they have rigorous standards for which apps do and do not get into their app store, that’s their business. but i think this case takes it to another level that i’m uncomfortable with.

now, let me clearly state that i’m not one to argue the slippery slope. trust me. in fact, i actually argue that the slippery slope argument is almost always a fallacy (but that’s a whole other conversation). but… i simply thinks this sets a terrible precedent. in this case, it’s the corporate equivalent of my first beef. it’s basically using your bully pulpit of business/commerce to engage in the unhelpful rhetoric i described above. we live in such a terribly polarized religio-political culture and these types of things only exacerbate the problem. again, it’s apple’s party and they can invite (or uninvite) whomever they like, but i just think it sets an unfortunate precedent for big business (or anyone, for that matter) to push out anyone who doesn’t subscribe to every jot and tittle of their beliefs.

again, i’m not a fan of the manhattan declaration at all. i think it’s unhelpful and is largely an adventure in missing the point. but i believe it should still be in the app store. i believe that there shouldn’t be so much of a strident backlash. more than anything, though, i believe there’s a better way to talk about our differences than throwing around words like “anti-gay” and “hate”.

so, what do you think?